Movie Review: Dhoom 3 (2013)

Dhoom_3_Film_Poster3 Stars (out of 4)

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There’s something liberating about a movie that makes it clear that it’s not supposed to be taken seriously. When concepts like physics and geography are chucked out the window with abandon, the audience has no choice but to accept the world as presented and go with it. Dhoom 3 is just such a movie: ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyable.

Dhoom 3 finds Mumbai police officers Jai (Abhishek Bachchan) and Ali (Uday Chopra) in Chicago to assist the police investigation of a bank robber who leaves messages in Hindi at every crime scene. Apparently, there are no CCTV cameras in the city, because the local police are unable to identify the brazen perpetrator: Sahir (Aamir Khan), a magician with a grudge against the bank.

Jai spearheads the investigation because Ali is too infatuated with their lovely local police contact, Victoria (Tabrett Brethell), to concentrate. Victoria’s only real purpose in the movie is to appear in funny dream sequences in which Ali seduces her while surrounded by their four imaginary future children.

During the course of the investigation, Sahir revives his father’s Great Indian Circus, a stage show featuring dancers, acrobats, and magicians. His star performer is Aaliya (Katrina Kaif), whom we know is supposed to be a free spirit because of her penchant for wearing floppy hats and overalls. Like Victoria, Aaliya has little to do apart from looking sexy during performances.

The movie’s action-packed first half features a couple of great-looking chase scenes through downtown Chicago, including a race along the Chicago River that sees the return of the submersible jet ski from Dhoom 2 (physics, be damned)! The second half becomes a personal drama that reveals how Sahir has been able to pull off his heists, that — as tonally incongruous as it is — still works because Aamir Khan is so darned talented.

Because I live about thirty miles from Chicago, I’ve really been looking forward to Dhoom 3. Evidently, so had everyone else in the theater, because everyone let out a cheer when “Chicago 1990” appeared on screen at the start of the film. As a local, here’s what stood out to me:

  • Dhoom 3‘s sense of geography is hilarious. I pity the poor tourist who comes to flat Chicago expecting to see the mountains Jai stares at out of his lakefront penthouse window. Also, good luck trying to make the motorcycle ride from Chicago to the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland.
  • One place that likely will see an uptick in movie-related tourism is Six Flags Great America. Not only are a number of scenes shot there, but the characters discuss the merits of its various roller coasters by name.
  • The movie is full of product placement — Mountain Dew, BMW, etc. — but there’s one corporation that apparently wouldn’t sign off on appearing in the movie: Dunkin’ Donuts. Their stores are EVERYWHERE in downtown Chicago, but you never see any on screen, a feat that seems impossible to accomplish by accident.
  • The accents of all the Chicago characters are whack. This is a Chicago accent.

Minor quibbles aside, Dhoom 3 did right by Chicago. Near the end of the film is a shot of what I think is the single most beautiful sight in the world: the city of Chicago at night. I hope the movie entices a few extra people to come visit us here in the Windy City. If nothing else, Dhoom 3 is a goofy, fun way to spend three hours in the theater.

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39 thoughts on “Movie Review: Dhoom 3 (2013)

  1. Rishab

    The movie lacked or missed any sequence which could have represented some smart writing. Keeping aside the foolish ideas of escaping the crime scene, the movie doesn’t even give the viewers a chance to know how Aamir’s character pulled off all those heists.
    You seriously have to turn off your sense of logic to find this movie interesting and entertaining.
    The only two things i liked about the movie are Katrina’s intro dance sequence (being a boy) and [spoiler removed by site editor].

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Rishab. A lack of logic doesn’t bother me in Dhoom 3 because it doesn’t take itself seriously. There’s no moral to it (besides: don’t break the law). I would feel differently if it wasn’t intentionally funny or if it was trying to say something important.

      Reply
  2. Nav

    Well Kathy saw the movie I think all the heists pulled out was based on the 2 card trick shown in the very 1st scene of the movie. So logically there wasn’t something incomprehensible about it. If you remember my only reason to go for this movie was aamir

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      There’s not so much a lack of logic as a lack of appreciation for physics (*cough* underwater jet ski motorcycle *cough*). 🙂 What did you think of Aamir’s performance, Nav?

      Reply
  3. Nav

    Mostly mediocre barring couple of scenes especially the final scene. But I really liked the camera work and the production value. In D3 the jai/ali intro scene was shabby & needless. I’m looking forward to 1.5 ishkiya.

    Reply
  4. Nav

    Also, as far is the underwater submersible jet ski motorcycle is concerned – please see below urls:

    http://www.visordown.com/motorcycle-news–general-news/the-nereus—a-jetski-that-can-dive/4901.html
    …and a host of others.
    The larger point being that if 007 can have all those gadgets then what D3 showed is not out of whack at all and completely possible even by today tech availability leave alone the future! And given Aamir is shown in the movie as Mr. Moneybags (by robbing that bank) it does not seem implausible that he could not have access to this sort of technology/customization.
    The Cctv point could have been easily circumvented if Aamir was made to wear a mask while pulling off all those heists & removing it at the point when Jai shot him so as to reveal himself only to Jai [spoiler removed by site editor].
    All in all quibbles around believability and logic are not existent to minor. For me the biggest disappointment was a weak script and story as you alluded to in your review. But Alas! one can’t expect that from most Hindi movies and the Dhoom series has never claimed it as its USP. Dhoom is all about bikes, babes, stunts and a reasonable guy accompanying a buffoon!

    Reply
  5. Ehinome Okojie

    Good day Mrs Gibson, I as a viewer from Nigeria feel that bollywood and other film industries
    outside the major hollywood system has to expand and let its picture seen and its voice round the world, The sad thing is that hindi film fanatics are fixated on star glorification and dont realise that there is no artist without an art, almost every 2 weeks rubbish is dished out to people in the name of bollywood entertainment to viewers whose only aim is to say this or that star had the highest grosser of the year and the bar for nonsense is been raised on an annual basis, 2011 & to some extent 2012 were not to good years with many mediocre films reaching the 1 billion rupee mark. I feel it is time for creativity to be applauded and i think good work from India will be appreciated commercially at times by overseas audience since most of the home viewers watch a film only with the intention of boosting collections of their favourites or a rival of stars they are in hatred with. All the same Aamir has done something appropriate most times as he is the biggest ambassador of meaningful commercial cinema, Shahrukh and Ranbir do lag behind him with some meaningful films, Hrithik has tried but has not been too appreciated.
    It is nice to see Dhoom 3 making waves in many countries, we are not far from seeing an Indian film breach the $ 1om mark in the US, more importantly they should be tolerably sensible.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Hi, Ehinome! Thanks for posting such a thoughtful comment, and I share your sentiments. It gave me great hope to see a movie like Kai Po Che! — one without a lot of action or spectacle and without any major stars in the cast — do well enough to earn over $1 million in the U.S., finishing in the U.S. top ten for 2013 alongside star-driven blockbusters like Chennai Express and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Cheers! — Kathy

      Reply
  6. meeradarjiyr1

    Great review Kathy! I liked this film and Amir Khan definitely brought it to life. Its definitely made me want to visit Chicago, looks like a pretty nice place! Though I’m assuming they only showed the best parts of the City.

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Thanks, Meera! It was nice to see the city portrayed so well. The movie offers something of a greatest hits tour of Chicago, but I’d also recommend a visit to Wrigley Field or a tour of homes designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In the movie, the facade of The Great Indian Circus actually belongs to the Adler Planetarium, a really cool lakefront museum.

      Reply
  7. Gitartha

    Thanx for d review,Kathy.I’m an ordinary indian boy,so plz don’t be dissapoint 2 fnd my lack of knowledge in english;sorry beforehand.Ok….watching d movie whn i searched for comments found mostly negatives.it’s not d best bt not d worst either.Wht attracts me more is d emotionality connected with d movie.Jhon in dhoom & Hrithik in dhoom 2 thieve only for d mere joy of thievery;bt Amir has a reason 2 do so{U may wtch these 2 movies in any weekand 2 verify my comment(ofcourse U’ll fnd nothing bt entertainment)}.dis d main difference frm its precedings.also amir is one of d most handsome indian actors despite his ht.& age(hey ,i’m not a gay,ok!).there is tehnology part too.In antagonis’s role jhon is good,hrithik super & amie superduper.I’m not a critic,only writing what i saw.thanx again & bye.( btw, chicago is beautiful)

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Hi, Gitartha! You make a good point that adding a revenge element to Aamir’s character’s story makes his actions more palatable than if he was just motivated by greed. It makes him a more interesting character, too, because there’s always a chance that he could change his mind and decide that revenge isn’t the answer. Thanks for the kind words about Chicago!

      Reply
  8. Nav


    recently Farooq Shiek a brilliant Indian actor died – the above link is to one of his classics made in 1978 ‘Gaman’ (Migration) – a must see.

    ASnothjer one availabler on youtube is Saath-Saath.

    Kathy/Ehinome a must see!

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Thanks for the link, Nav. Farooq Sheikh came to Chicago for the last two Chicago South Asian Film Festivals, but I didn’t get the chance to meet him.

      Reply
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  10. Mayank Nailwal

    Hi kathy.
    Like always read your review.
    Truly saying, my pals told me that Dhoom 3 is a trash.
    But the way you described it still made me feel that lets watch it if its enjoyable.
    After all, in the previous 2 installments too, there was no logic at all.
    And technically for the purpose of enjoyment only this franchise is meant for.
    So, was I satisfied?

    I am so sorry but I guess you got little biased.
    I loved the way The Stunning Chicago is portrayed.
    It was amazing.
    After source code, Dark knight I really liked the way its captured.
    Like you mentioned earlier, the scene at Chicago river was amazing!
    The pre-climactic chase scene framing the chicago skyline was Jaw-dropping.
    The climax at the Dam looked awesome too.
    But, lets talk of the other things than cinematography, the action-vfx: Very Bad!
    Or say, a spectacular piece of trash.
    Exploiting the awesome locations with pathetic chases and Hilarious logic.
    Everytime when there was a chase scene, it was a very bad insult to Chicago police.
    Holding guns but never firing.
    I was like- “common man, just don’t aim for shot always, fire plz”!
    Aamir was running or say flying in a scene from the walls of the bank for no valid reason.
    There are so much loopholes.
    I won’t stop.
    Let me talk just of positives.

    The hyped Malang Song was something worth watchable.
    I liked it.
    Aamir’s acting in the second half was good. (Won’t spoil anything telling the reason)
    And the last thing- The junior Aamir, Nigam was very good.

    Kathy, I appreciate your reviews always but this time you went much wrong with your review.
    Disappointed I am being a loyal reader of you.
    Anyways, A happy new year to you.
    🙂

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Happy new year to you, Mayank. As for the lack of gunfire from the Chicago police, I think that was a wise bit of deference to local law on the part of the filmmakers. There is NO WAY police officers in Chicago or any other American city would engage in a shootout with an unarmed suspect in the middle of a crowded city street. (Not unless they wanted to be fired and wind up in court battling wrongful death lawsuits for the rest of their lives). I know it’s a movie, and I know I’m really, really forgiving over the liberties the movie takes with the laws of physics, but that’s all in the name of fun. Seeing cops mow down a bunch of civilians while Aamir rides off into the sunset isn’t my idea of a good time.

      Reply
      1. mayanknailwal

        Thanks for the info.kathy about the Chicago police.
        I supposed that Robbing Bank thrice is a big crime.
        And let me cut to another point too.., Aamir was on the terrace and he was chased by 7 cops.
        Being a viewer we do want the Antagonist to escape but JUST LIKE THAT? !
        Still, I do appreciate your views. Thanks
        🙂

        Reply
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  13. Shah Shahid

    I was never too taken with any of the DHOOM movies. However, I find all of them to be great studies in character development for ‘the villain’.
    DHOOM showed much respect between Bachchan & Abraham’s character. The exchanges between them were sharp, crisp and very well written.
    Same can be said with Roshan in DHOOM 2, where the villain’s back story was fleshed out a bit more on a personal relationship level.
    DHOOM 3 seems to have gone a step further and make the story directly connected to the villain’s origin story.

    My only gripe is that the main lead, the ‘hero’ for all intents and purposes, becomes more and more relegated to being the 2nd fiddle to the new guest villain of each feature. Not cool. Jai has no motivation to do what he does, other than being ‘the cop’. And even his dragging Ali around everywhere loses reasoning after the 2nd movie. (FYI: Haven’t seen DHOOM 3 yet, opinions based on my perception of the trailers and you review. )

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      Isn’t that funny: to have a franchise in which the returning heroes play second fiddle to the celebrity villain. I fully expect Dhoom 4 to star Salman Khan, with Sonakshi Sinha as his accomplice.

      Reply
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